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Monday, June 21, 2004

Darth Cheney

According to a story in this week's issue of Newsweek (on the stands today), there was some doubt among the 9/11 commission and staff regarding the actions of Dick Cheney on the morning of September 11, 2001. Supposedly, he was acting on Bush's orders, conveyed via a cell phone conversation between the two.

Bolten, the White House deputy chief of staff, asked the veep to get back in touch with the president to "confirm the engage order." Bolten was clearly subordinate to Cheney, but "he had not heard any prior conversation on the subject with the president," the 9/11 report notes. Nor did the real-time notes taken by two others in the room, Cheney's chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby—who is known for his meticulous record-keeping—or Cheney's wife, Lynne, reflect that such a phone call between Bush and Cheney occurred or that such a major decision as shooting down a U.S. airliner was discussed. Bush and Cheney later testified the president gave the order....

....But the question of Cheney's behavior that day is one of many new issues raised in the remarkably detailed, chilling account laid out in dramatic presentations by the 9-11 Commission. NEWSWEEK has learned that some on the commission staff were, in fact, highly skeptical of the vice president's account and made their views clearer in an earlier draft of their staff report. According to one knowledgeable source, some staffers "flat out didn't believe the call ever took place." When the early draft conveying that skepticism was circulated to the administration, it provoked an angry reaction. In a letter from White House lawyers last Tuesday and a series of phone calls, the White House vigorously lobbied the commission to change the language in its report. "We didn't think it was written in a way that clearly reflected the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett told NEWSWEEK. Ultimately the chairman and vice chair of the commission, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean and former representative Lee Hamilton—both of whom have sought mightily to appear nonpartisan—agreed to remove some of the offending language. The report "was watered down," groused one staffer.

Dick Cheney is out on the prowl now, doing his smug best to try and discredit the entire 9/11 commission and its findings:

This week the 9-11 commissioners find themselves engaged in another testy dispute, especially with Cheney, over the ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. For the Bush team, making the case that Saddam and bin Laden were linked is one of its most sensitive credibility issues, a key justification for following its assault on Al Qaeda with a much costlier and bloodier war in Iraq. The vice president insisted in short-tempered public remarks last week that the commission had agreed the Iraq-Qaeda links were extensive. But commission vice chair Hamilton acknowledged to NEWSWEEK the commissioners had differences with the administration. "We didn't have any evidence of collaboration or cooperation," Hamilton said flatly. He added that bin Laden's ties "to Iran and Pakistan were certainly stronger than any tie he had to Iraq." Despite Cheney's comments, Bartlett said the White House did not officially raise any questions about the report's conclusions on Qaeda-Iraq ties.

Cheney has now challenged the commission point blank. Asked in a CNBC interview whether he had more information about Iraq-Qaeda links than the commission, Cheney remarked, "Probably." This comment stunned Kean and Hamilton, who asked Cheney to pass that extra intel on to them. (Administration spokesmen had previously said they gave the commission whatever it needed to do its job.)

I do believe we'll be seeing much more of the Vice President, making the rounds and filling the echo chamber with doubt. The question now is whether Dick Cheney wrested control of the United States from George Bush during the attacks on America. There does not seem to be much consensus on this, but the Newsweek article does make a point of informing that the staff report didn't reflect "the accounting the president and vice president had given to the commission." Does anyone have any doubt now as to why it was that Cheney and Bush had to testify behind closed doors, together, and not under penalty of perjury?

FOIA request on those cell phone records, anyone?

1 comments: to “ Darth Cheney

  • Anonymous
    June 24, 2004 7:43 AM  

    "The question now is whether Dick Cheney wrested control of the United States from George Bush during the attacks on America."

    Would it still be called "wresting control" if Bush-Boy was simultaneously thrusting the responsibility into Darth Cheney's hands?

    (Thanks for the heads-up at Eschaton.)

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